A trade body wants independent inventories to become mandatory across the lettings sector - and it pledges to mount a campaign to achieve this.
The Association of Independent Inventory Clerks says the government should make inventories “compulsory, unbiased and regulated” as standard.
The Conservative manifesto for this month’s General Election pledged to “improve protections for those who rent” and the AIIC says regulated inventories could help to raise standards significantly in the lettings sector.
Citing a survey by HomeLet, the AIIC says 12.5 per cent of over 20,000 renters analysed have had deposits withheld. The most common reasons were cleaning and redecoration costs, details which can be clearly outlined in a professionally compiled inventory.
The research also found that only 70 per cent of tenants surveyed received an inventory of the property and its contents from a letting agent before they moved in. The association says it is unclear how many of these inventories came from landlords or their agents, rather then professional inventory clerks with no prior links to the property.
"It's time for the government to think about housing and in particular the growing private rented sector, which now accounts for around a fifth of all households. Independent third party inventories are a fundamentally important part of the lettings process and they need to be made obligatory" says Danny Zane, joint chair of the AIIC.
"In the past, politicians have been quick to praise the success of compulsory deposit protection - introduced in 2007. But if there is no unbiased inventory detailing the condition of the property at the beginning and end of the tenancy, then all this good work is undermined and it could be argued that taking deposits and protecting them is essentially rendered pointless” he adds.
Zane claims the proposed ban on letting agent fees levied on tenants - which has describes as “short sighted” because they would lead to higher rents - has hogged recent headlines, but should not obscure the need for other industry initiatives by government.
"It is alarming to think that this integral part of the lettings process is not treated with the same importance as tenancy agreements and deposit protection" he says, pledging that the AIIC will continue to campaign for the compulsory inventories over coming months.